Kasa Shramika Parisara Rakshaka: Mary and Gopi Demand a Better Deal for Waste Workers in the City

Mary and Gopi are the DWCC (Dry Waste Collection Centre) operators for Ward number 165 in Banashankari. The DWCC was the only source of income for the both of them and the ten persons who had been working with them for over 3 years, until two months ago, they were forced to shut the centre down to make way for a new BBMP project.

Mary and Gopi had faced trouble from the moment they had opened the DWCC over three years ago. They had to deal with burglary, people setting the segregated waste on fire, and many other interferences. Although they had kept the centre functioning efficiently, they were always being accused of inefficiency. When the couple had started the centre, officials had already been planning to demolish it, but taking cognizance of the people working there, the notice had been withdrawn.

Through this DWCC, over 30 tonnes of waste used to be segregated, sorted and transported to their respective endpoints. But, Mary and Gopi used to be under intense pressure almost constantly. To negotiate the evacuation notice, Mary tried to get in touch with BBMP officials. When nothing worked out, she got in touch with Vishwanathan from the NGO Hasirudala. When Vishwanathan spoke with the officials, the couple were given one week’s window to evacuate the centre. Hence, despite the residents in the area being in support of Mary and Gopi, they had no choice but to shut the centre down. If it weren’t for her husband’s ill health, Mary believes that she would have done a better job at dealing with the situation she had found herself in.

With the centre gone, the couple and the workers have been left with no source of income. Mary has been considering working with scrap dealers so that they earn some money to get by.

Mary and Gopi believe that waste collectors are the ones playing a key role in maintaining a clean country. “None of them should be discouraged this way. If they are working, they should not have to face so many hindrances and have their only source of income snatched away. Instead, they should be provided with effective alternatives.”

Mary and Gopi are hoping to find a new centre in the coming months and further hope that they will not have to deal with such problems again.

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